Quite often, we use Peter as an example of rash words and actions. We chuckle and shake our heads when we hear him blurt out “…Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16b), then shortly thereafter try to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem because it was certain that Jesus would be arrested and probably be put to death. But this was exactly why Jesus had to go to Jerusalem. What about on the mountain when Peter saw Jesus in His glorified body talking with Moses and Elijah? What was Peter’s reaction?
“And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said” (Luke 9:33). Peter reacted to the situation rather than allow Jesus to lead. I like Peter. He made mistakes but eventually allowed Jesus to transform him into a man who faithfully fed the sheep.
I appreciate how Peter stepped out in faith, although sometimes he was downright rash. For instance, Peter and the other disciples had seen the Lord feed 5,000 men plus women and children using only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, and, of course, a prayer of thanks. Then, Jesus needed some quiet time. He sent the crowd to their homes, and He sent the disciples ahead of Him across the Sea of Galilee. Jesus took some time alone to pray. We need to use Jesus’ example here. There are many times when we get so busy doing God’s business that we forget to stop and find a quiet time to just talk with Him.
“And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23).
Although Jesus stayed behind, He could see the little ship sailing across the sea and the disciples rowing against a storm. “And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them…” (Mark 6:48a). Many of the disciples were fishermen and experienced sailors. Still, they struggled against the storm. How much time had they spent toiling? Hours had passed between the time Jesus sent them away in the ship. Were they so caught up in the struggle that they forgot to call to Jesus?
Many of us are “experienced” Christians, but we still struggle using our own strength to fight against the storms of life. Instead of calling out in faith, the disciples fought against the storm using their own knowledge and strength. It would have been easier if they had called out to Jesus for help.
Much time had passed since they had set sail; it had been light when Jesus had fed the multitude, but it was between 3 AM and 6 AM when Jesus went to them. “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.” After such a long battle against the storm, the disciples must have been exhausted. I wonder what would have happened if they had stopped fighting the storm and called for Jesus. I know He would have answered. “And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea” (Matthew 14:25). Even though they didn’t call out to Him, He saw their need and went to meet them.
Rather than hiring another ship to take Him to where the disciples struggled, Jesus took a walk. Even though the disciples had seen Jesus do many miraculous things, their reaction was fear when they saw Him walking on the water towards them. The wind and waves interfered with the ship, but Jesus was easily able to walk on the water to catch up to them. “And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear” (Matthew 14:26).
Even though those men walked with Jesus every day, they were still fearful of His power and just didn’t have full faith in His compassion and care for them. Even though it must have been loud with the sea raging and the wind blowing, they managed to hear His voice. “But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (Matthew 14:27).
We all face storms in which we struggle, trying to fight the storm by our own efforts. But if we just listen, we can hear Jesus telling us to “be not afraid.” Do we listen? It’s in the storms that our faith is tested and grows stronger.
Peter learned a lesson of faith that day. “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water” (Matthew 14:28). Peter was a fisherman and knew the peril of stepping out of a boat anytime, especially during a storm. I can imagine James, John, and Andrew (the other fishermen) shaking their heads at Peter’s chutzpah. On the other hand, who showed more faith? Yep, it was Peter.
Jesus was willing. “And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus” (Matthew 14:29). Jesus will always welcome us when we step out in faith. Peter climbed out of his “comfort zone,” got out of the safety of the ship, and began to walk towards Jesus. In my mind, I picture a toddler struggling to learn to walk. The little one tries to walk to the safety of the loving parent’s outstretched arms.
Matthew’s Gospel says that he did walk on water to reach Jesus until Peter made a mistake. He took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the storm instead of the shelter. “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30). Peter looked at the storm and began to sink. He did the right thing and cried out to Jesus. Peter didn’t sink quickly but began to sink.
Aren’t we a bit like Peter? We might desire to step out in faith, but instead of keeping our focus on Jesus, we allow the storm to cause us to doubt.
Jesus was there to save Peter from drowning. “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).
I can hear Jesus’ soothing voice and feel His strong hand as He says those same words to me when I finally call out to Him in great distress. There’s a lot in this day and age that can cause us to sink if we let the troubles overwhelm us. Fear of the storm will always make us blind to the fact that Jesus is always with us. The Holy Spirit is sealed within us, and we need to allow His strength and power to flow through us. There are many storms raging today, but we need to focus on Jesus. We need to seek Him. Instead of fearing the storm, we need to step out in faith and cry out to Him. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith has always been the way of salvation.
We live in very trying times. The storms of this life are raging and will continue to become worse. Where’s your faith? Do you look at the wind and waves, or do you have faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? If you’ve put your faith anywhere but in Jesus, then you will sink.
Peter was rash and outspoken, but the Lord used these attributes. It was Peter, a Jewish man, who reached out to Cornelius, a Gentile. Not only a Gentile, but a Roman Centurion. Read about it in Acts chapter 10. Because Peter was willing to step out in faith, a Roman Centurion and his household came to a saving faith in Jesus. Peter learned to keep his eyes on Jesus in any kind of storm.
We need to learn that kind of faith and not be afraid of the opinions of others. Seek Jesus and His righteousness. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Remember that once Jesus is welcomed on board, the storms stop. “And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God” (Matthew 14:32-33). Never forget to thank Him and worship Him for calming the storms of life.
Where’s your faith? Is it in the storm that threatens to sink you, or is it in Jesus Christ who will see you through each and every storm?
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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